How Private Investigators Work Within the Law

How Private Investigators Work Within the Law

Our success as private investigators in India hinges a lot on being in possession of the knowledge of the laws that apply to our profession. While there is a lot more concerning laws that apply to private investigations in India, those are beyond the limited scope of this article. Let me give you, dear reader a synopsis of the specific laws that affect us and our business so that if you are faced with a predicament where you might require our services, it might make it easier for you to make a decision about the matter and whether or not to get professionals to help you resolve the issue to a definite conclusion.

Understanding the Law

Indian detective agenciesLaws that apply to investigative law in India are widely disparate. In this article I will talk about the basic laws to which both law enforcement investigators as well as private investigators must adhere to. Some of them do not apply directly to our work as a private investigator, though many out of them do. Knowing and applying these laws in our sphere of work, I believe marks us out as serious professionals and separates us from the average private detective on the street or the ones you find on classifieds websites. Our work ethics and our deep knowledge of our craft coupled with our in-depth knowledge of the law of the land garners us respect from both the public and the law enforcement community.

One does not need to be an attorney or a police officer to be a good private detective but you do need to know something about the laws that govern law enforcement as well as laws that apply to our profession. One must know where our responsibility ends and law enforcement authority begins. Never must it enter a private investigator’s mind that he / she is a law enforcement officer. In fact impersonating a law official is a criminal offense punishable by law.

Crime Scene Investigations

An individual client or a lawyer will often hire us in cases which necessitates the search of a crime scene. The crime scene is the domain of law enforcement and police officers do not appreciate hot shot private detectives interfering with their work. So we always tread cautiously and fully co-operate with the local law officials on such cases. Acting within our boundaries and behaving responsibly helps us develop respectful working relationships with police officers which eventually helps us greatly in solving a case or reach a definite conclusion thereby ensuring that our clients or lawyers are satisfied.

Pretexting the Law

What is Pretexting

Pretexting is a formidable tool in the private investigator‘s tool box but it is quite tricky and must be applied with prudence and judgement. Pretexting can be defined as:

a. Ostensible or professed purpose or an excuse.

b. An effort or strategy intended to conceal something.

In other words, pretexting is lying but not lying for personal gain or with the intention to harm another person. It can be misused but when properly executed, courts have upheld it’s use.

Lying for any reason is a moral issue and in certain cases it can be a crime. For some people, lying is just a way of getting what one desires. While others who abide by strict moral values and principles or those who are just plain uncomfortable with lying will never misrepresent anything in any way. The criminal justice system has struggled for years with the boundaries beyond which deception must be allowed to go and the courts still grapple with the issue from time to time.

The undercover work that we private detectives have to do entails a lot of lying! Right from the false name and credentials that we have to use to obtain information to the unmarked car that that we use that disguises our true identity. Yet one must remember that all this is not done for personal gain. While some people may argue against pretexting, the courts all over the world have accepted it as a vital part of an investigator’s hunt to uncover the truth and have ruled it permissible if it has been done without coercing innocent people into false confessions.

Ethics Vs Real World Practicality

List of Indian Private InvestigatorsThere is a definite problem that exists in society in the need to balance the reality of criminal behaviour with laws that protect the rights of all citizens. The criminal who rapes, loots and kills does not abide by any laws and all of them prey and thrive on the average citizen’s uninformed idealism and innocence about how criminals think and their behaviour. Due to this, the law and by extension the private investigator may feel constrained by laws that protect the rights of a criminal who cares nothing for the rights and the safety of others. Yet, commitment to the rule of law is enshrined in the constitution of free and democratic societies like India, the United States and others. In such countries, the rule of law is defined as universally accepted and defined and governs every citizen of the country. This in effect separates India from totalitarian regimes like the ones that still exist in countries like North Korea and other countries.

Because of the high stakes involved, abiding by the law must remain the Private Investigator’s chief concern at all times yet balancing the protection of the public at all times. Considering the real world challenge that this dilemma poses and considering the utmost objective – the need to provide protection – the Supreme Court of India has recognized this challenge in the past. In order to balance the scale between the criminals and the law abiding citizens of the country, it has given permission to allow certain behaviour that bypasses the hard-line rule of the law and allows the upholders of the law and those given responsibility for public protection to push the truth slightly when seeking information from a suspect. The line is very thin however and must be treated with fine judgement and strategy.

A Fine Balance

indian private investigatorsIn achieving this kind of a balancing act, should the lie result in solving a case, the cost of lying is weighed against the foreseeable benefits to the public and the victim of the crime. When placed on a scale, the moral evil of the lie (if performed correctly) is not perceived as heavy when weighed against the cost of achieving justice for the crime victim and the protection of the public by removal of the offender – especially a violent one – from society. Unfortunately this isnt the only situation in which legal ideals and real world practically face off against each other. Some of the challenges are:

1. The presumption of innocence is challenged by the knowledge that many of the so-called innocent people are actually guilty.

2. The ideal to protect each other’s civil rights is challenged by the fact that some have abused and will continue to abuse the civil rights of others. When offender and victim rights conflict, the moot question of whose rights are more important casts a shadow on the ideal.

3. The ideal of the right to bail is challenged by the knowledge of the violent potential of many offenders should they be released.

4. The ideal of the police refraining from the use of physical force is challenged by suspects who refuse to be taken into custody without a fight and by the need of a police officer to protect himself and the public.

There are many more challenges that exist within the law, but this short list is intended to give you some of the idea of finding a balance that we private investigators have to repeatedly content with in the day to day duties of our job. It also illustrates the fact that separate arms of the law sometimes line up on different sides of these challenges. For example, part of the defense counsel’s jobs is obtaining bail for his / her client. The police officer’s or detective’s job is to apprehend and put the defendant in jail until trial. The detective or police officer may want bail to be denied to a violent defendant. The judge must look at both sides of the coin and herein lies the challenge: choosing between bail rights of the defendant vs. the rights of protection for the victim and the public at large.

Author Bio

Amit Sen is the founding partner of Alliance One – who are among the best detective agencies in Mumbai specializing in providing thorough pre marital investigation services among other private and corporate investigation services. Amit is also a trained pilot and an aviator and likes to remain grounded on the days when he is not flying high.

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Why Clients Hire Us For Background Investigations

Why Clients Hire Us For Background Investigations

Background Investigations – a Bread and Butter Service

A Background Investigation is a search for information about a person. This search is not for the reason of proving or disproving but only to provide relevant information so that an objective judgement can be made. Private investigators like us hired for background investigation mandates dredge up relevant information while our clients make the objective judgement about the facts given to them. Clients who hire us for background check services vary widely and their motivations for hiring us also vary greatly. For example:

a. A public defense lawyer may need background information about a defendant as also for key witnesses for both sides of a case, the history of a presiding judge etc.

b.  The Client’s defense lawyer may also need the same type of information as above.

c. A lawyer may want to know the opposing lawyer’s history of courtroom strategy and tactics.

d. The family of a bride may want to know the background of the bridegroom and / or his family and vice versa before finalizing on the lifelong alliance.

e. A businessman may want to know the background of another businessman before entering on a long term deal with him.

f. A businessman / woman may want to know is his / her partner or employee is involved in some surreptitious activity that can harm or ruin his business.

g. A person desirous of buying a property for investment or otherwise may want to do a background check of the broker, developer before making a hefty down payment.

h. A celebrity may want to run a background check before hiring an employee such as a bodyguard, gardener, accountant, house help etc.

i. A spouse may want to know if his / her partner is cheating.

Background Check Services for Companies

background-verification-agencies-in-mumbaiIn addition to offering background verification services for individuals, we also offer employee background investigation services to businesses and corporations. In such cases, the client could be the owner, manager or someone representing the HR department. The areas of interest within the scope of background verification may vary according to the specific needs of the business and the preferences of management. For example, a company that operates in a safety-first policy environment will be more interested in confirming the job applicant’s accident history whereas a company that is hiring for a crucial sales position may want to confirm the candidate’s track record for sales. According to the needs of the client, a bespoke information search strategy is utilized and presented to the client.

The employers who approach us could vary from those in the private, public, NGO’s and Not-For-Profit foundations. In small and medium businesses, it is usually the founder of the business who has a direct relationship with us. In certain cases where the client is a public sector organisation, then the relationship is usually between us and a group under private contract  to the government for the provision of background investigation services.

Usually, the person whose background is to be searched will fall under two main categories:

1. Employees / Job Applicants

2. Prospective Partners

The first category includes people who are on the payroll and people who wish to be on the payroll. In the second category are the people with whom the client wishes to do business with. These can be vendors, full time partners, joint-venture partners, companies to be acquired or merged with and prospective buyers.

Reasons For Doing a Background Check

When a client wishes to investigate the background of a current employee. the reasons to trigger the suspicion that something could be amiss could be varied. The client may have heard rumours that a certain candidate is being considered for a position of great trust and responsibility within the company and the client wants to be 100 % sure of the employee’s integrity. In certain cases the lines are more blurred such as in cases where we have been called upon to conduct a background check of an employee in relation to a crime or incident, the investigation is not a Background Investigation anymore but rather a component of a more extensive investigations such as white-collar crime.

Generally, we private investigators conduct more Background investigations of prospective employees than current employees. If you are a reader who is just interested in our world with no intentions to use our services, you may be wondering why employers are willing to pay a background investigation agency to obtain information about another person. Well, the monies paid to us is far less than money that can be lost or potential ruin befalling a company were a candidate with a dubious past let in through the doors. In essence, a background investigation is risk prevention and cost-preventive measure. Applicants who have a criminal record, who are violence-prone, those with dangerous and harmful addictions are filtered out thus reducing costs associated with theft, injury, harm, accidents, fraud etc.

The Background Check Process

In a nutshell, Pre employment screening basically consists of checking and verifying records, checking with and verifying references and also interviewing persons who may know the subject of the investigation but may not have been listed as references.

This is where our work differs from the background investigation that has been done by a recruitment company. Recruiters are in a hurry to close a postion for which they will receive a fee and in such cases, they will only verify references given by the employee himself. Now commonsense dictates that a person with a dubious past will give references of bumchum pals who will not have anything negative to say about the subject, right?!! Which is why the background verification done by recruitment and HR Firms are shallow and unreliable to say the least.

I will get into the Background Check Process in more detail in the next post. In the meantime feel free to read our other posts to know more about our unique profession!

Author Bio

Amit Sen is the founding partner of Alliance One – who are among the best detective agencies in Mumbai specializing in providing thorough pre marital investigation services among other private and corporate investigation services. Amit is also a trained pilot and an aviator and likes to remain grounded on the days when he is not flying high.

Article edited and co-written by Atin Dasgupta who is the co-founder and marketing head of Alliance One. Read more about Atin here.

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The Unethical Types of Indian Private Detectives That You Must Avoid At Any Cost

The Unethical Types of Indian Private Detectives That You Must Avoid At Any Cost

In the light of your search for a private detective to solve your problem, you may be reminded of the unethical behaviors concerning some Private Investigators that you may have heard from the mouth of friends, family or even the internet. So in this article I have decided to shed some light on the ethics and morality that is prevalent among private investigators in India and I hope to enlighten you dear reader about the different types of private investigators so that you may ultimately make a sound choice when it comes to choosing a professional investigator to solve your problem.

Ethical Behaviour

Moral Private DetetcivesRemember – no one considers themselves unethical. What is unethical for you may be ethical for another person and vice versa. Even gangsters have a code of ethics that they follow and therefore it can be said that even Chota Rajan and Dawood Ibrahim are ethical human beings! Dispensing Personal justice by killing someone for breaking a rule may be ethical behaviour in Gangstaland whereas in normal society, using the legal system to bring someone to justice is considered ethical. Ethics are a code of conduct and morality and a system of moral rules and principles that govern appropriate behaviour. Ethics are imbibed by a human being in childhood and are usually taught by elders or the social circle one is brought up in. As one grows and matures, one’s ethics are shaped by exposure to different standards of behaviour by those around us. It is commendable to note that personal ethics can always be altered by a human being at any time in life. So someone who has grown up to know that giving and accepting bribes is wrong may suddenly decide that if by taking bribes he / she is able to earn extra money which can be put to good use, he / she may then justify his / her actions and thus consider taking bribes as acceptable  behaviour even though society considers graft immoral and unethical.

We Do Not Break the Law – Ever!

Consider this – without ethics, civilization as we know it may crumble and disintegrate. The courtesy of treating other people the same way that you’d like to be treated yourself is the glue that binds civilization together.  As private investigators, one of the earliest lessons that I learnt from my dad who was a renowned PI himself was that good ethical behaviour is important for longevity in any career. Knowing the parameters of one’s personal ethics is also of paramount importance. Before we face ethical dilemmas, we have to decide beforehand how one will deal with them. What does one do when it seems that the only way to record a video of our subject is to enter her property and then record her through a window? We have decided beforehand that we will not jeopardize the case by breaking a law. A good private investigator will wait for the subject to emerge out of the house or will find a way to bring the subject out of the house before filming him / her. All these ethical issues have been decided when we begun our careers so that we know where to draw the line. All interns and rookie investigators are also taught to toe the line when it comes to the law of the land. If the client makes an outrageous demand, we simply refuse the case. It’s easy as that!

We Return Unused Funds

We take an advance fee before commencing on any case. And it has often been the case that after the investigation is successfully completed we have used less money than we had originally envisioned. Under such circumstances, there are only two options before any businessman. Either return the unused funds / adjust it against the total bill amount or simply show additional expenses in which case the client will be none the wiser. Well, as far as we are concerned, unused monies are always returned to the client. If you think it doesn’t matter, we believe that it does matter because being untruthful goes against our code of ethics!

Some Bad Apple Behaviour of Private Investigators In India

The Unscrupulous Private Eye

Private Detectives Who are CorruptAs private investigators, most of our clients are people and organisations who are in highly vulnerable positions in life and come to us when they in the throes of extreme anxiety over some professional or personal matter. These people are obviously at their lowest ebb and taking advantage of their circumstances is despicable behaviour according to us. But when unscrupulous private investigators take advance payments from clients and then refuse to commit to the services that they have pledged, it is criminal behaviour and one which gives a bad name to our profession.

The Blackmailer

detectives who cheat peopleUnscrupulous Private Detectives have been known to accept infidelity cases from clients and then film or shoot pictures of evidence proving the client’s wife guilty and instead of giving that evidence to the client, the investigator simply contacts the client’s wife and sells her the evidence at a huge cost and then gives a clean chit to the client about his wife’s behaviour! In this way, the PI not only gets the original fee decided upon by the client but also gets a huge payment from the wife who does not want proof of her illicit adventures to fall in the hands of her husband! The con private eye has taken the decision out of the hands of the court and has himself determined the outcome of the case! This is simply a despicable act that we condone to the fullest. It reflects a crushing lack of morality and zero concern for others. Avoid such fraudsters like the plague. A word of advice to avoid being conned: Before assigning a case to any private investigator, ask for two references from the investigator and speak to them on the phone and if possible meet them to know whether the private detective has a reputation and is a professional and whether he / she has clients who can vouch for his / her credibility and quality of service.

The Brash and Aggressive Private Detective

Best Detectives Renowned MumbaiThis type of Private Investigator (and we know some of these characters ourselves!) considers themselves as real life avatars of the private detectives romanticized in films and novels! He carries weapons upon him and will not shy from showing his clients that he carries a gun! These types will also rough up suspects to gather classified information and will talk endlessly about his reach and power into the highest echelons of the government and will even try to prove his knowledge of the legal process which in reality he knows nothing about! This guy will also wear outlandish costumes such as a hat, trenchcoat (in Indian weather!), garish clothes, gold chains, rings, amulets and of course the interiors of his office will also be equally garish and situated in a non descript and sidey location. Avoid this guy. He is funny and more importantly he is bluffing his way through life. He can only get you into more trouble than you are currently in!

The Cheapo Private Investigator

Renowned Reputed Detectives IndiaThe cheapo private investigator is generally out to fool the client and make a fast buck for himself. This type of hustler will inflate the expenses once he has locked in a client by saying that he did not expect new problems and unforeseeable circumstances and will thus have to pay extra. The client who has already paid a fair amount of money finds himself between a rock and a hard place and usually pays up the extra bills. Cases are usually dragged on and on with only bits of information that is passed on to the client at regular intervals and more payment sought. When the money stops, these scumbags will usually move on, leaving the client stuck with no real answers despite a ton of cash paid up. Because of the sensitive nature of the case, the client has no option but to let it go.

The Mousey Private Investigator

Detectives agencies renowned indiaThis type of PI is the opposite of the Brash and Aggressive type. He is scared of everything and does not make much headway in cases because he is afraid offending suspects and witnesses. Forever afraid of being burned (discovered), this mousey detective’s fear of being discovered is itself a dead giveaway and alerts himself to subjects under surveillance thus creating the very circumstances that he fears! These types of investigators will often try to disguise themselves with wigs, moustaches, hats etc. But due to a lack of expertise in the art of disguise this type of private investigator fails miserably in his job.

The Amateur Private Detective

detective agencies andheri mumbaiThis kind of private detective is overconfident and thinks that she has a natural talent and aptitude for private investigation and does not need any further training in life. She will devour books on mystery and intrigue and will claim to know the ending long before she has reaches the end! She claims to have solved case regarding her family life such as following her husband in the past and caught him cheating. This and a few other escapades in the past makes her assume that she has all the trappings of a success PI. Nothing could be further from the truth. Truth of the matter is that these kind of amateurs who think that they have become Private Investigators without gathering the necessary training and experience give a bad name to the profession.

The Unprofessional & Lazy Investigator

unprofessional private detective storiesThis type of private investigator will defraud the client by delivering sub standard work. According to us, delivering service that is anything short of the best that one can do amounts to fraud. This kind of private detective is forever looking for shortcut approaches to work – anything that takes away the drudgery and boring work that professional private detectives are called upon to do. This good-for-nothing private detective will get bored on surveillance missions and will leave too soon. In other circumstances he / she might decide that surveillance is usually a good time to do some shopping or gallivanting during which time the suspect has left the scene and the investigator has lost her chance to get evidence. This inept and unprofessional investigator is often prey to vices like alcohol and drug addiction and does not believe in rigorous work and thus will not do all the legwork required to get the necessary evidences thus ensuring that the reports that are produced are not sufficient in court. This investigator may be well trained but laziness, bad habits and lack of hard work and effort ruins not only his own career but also the lives of others.

The Spymaster 007

Detectives Who Spy in MumbaiThe Spymaster thinks he is James Bond or Sherlock Holmes incarnated! An overactive and hallucinatory mind are trademark characteristics of these caricature personalities. This type of private detective will try to uncover conspiracies and hidden agendas in almost every situation encountered. This kind of person is in love with the romanticized idea of a private investigator but will shirk from doing the day-to-day work that goes with the territory. This kind of private detective desires a glamorous and exciting lifestyle comprised of wine, women and exotic trips a la James Bond movies. In other words, this type of person lives in a fantasy world and can even be described as pshychotic. Clients are easily fooled by his bs talk and tales of his exploits and the reports that he produces for clients and courts are nothing short of fairy tales! It is easy to spot this guy by one look at his website. If you see the stereotypical images of felt hats, binoculars, guns, foreigners in trenchcoats and flowery language you can rest assured that you are dealing with such a character! If you love the romantic idea of such a person working on your case, by all means go for it. But dont say later that we didnt warn you!

 Author Bio

Amit Sen is the founding partner of Alliance One – who are among the best private detective agencies in Mumbai specializing in providing thorough background marriage check services in Mumbai among other private and corporate investigation services. Amit is also a trained pilot and an aviator and likes to remain grounded on the days when he is not flying high.

Article edited and co-written by Atin Dasgupta who is the co-founder and marketing head of Alliance One. Read more about Atin here.

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